A number of important factors affect our sense of balance as we grow older.
“As we age, our sight, hearing, muscle strength, coordination and reflexes change, weakening our balance. Also, some health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and circulation problems, affect balance. Even some medications have been known to make people dizzy.
“Unfortunately, all of these factors make falls more likely. One of every three persons aged 65 years and older falls each year. But take heart, you do not have to be one of them! You can take simple steps to improve your balance and reduce your risk of falling.”
-AARP Website (American Association of Retired People)
Drugs & Dizziness
* If you are on medication(s) that make you dizzy, talk to your doctor so that he or she can review your situation and perhaps adjust your dosage or prescriptions.
* A fall, and the consequences of that fall, should be considered and weighed carefully when considering the possible side-effects of medication you are taking.
* All decisions about medications you might be taking should only be made after consulting your doctor.
Practice Preventing Dizziness
* Get up from sitting, or from bed, slowly. Take your time.
* When walking, look forward – NOT at your feet. If you are unsteady, hold onto something.
* Ask your doctor if any medicine you are on can cause dizziness.
* Dizziness is not light-headedness is not vertigo.
Is the Problem My Eyes, My Inner Ears, or My Joints?
* If closing your eyes causes you to lose your balance, then your inner ears might be a problem. They pick up the slack when your eyes take some time off.
* If you experience dizziness while still, your inner ear is probably the problem.
* If you have dizziness when you move or sit up then you might have an inner ear problem or a circulation problem.
* Tingling or numbness in your arms or legs can be a result of diabetes or other medical conditions which interfere with your body’s ability to recognize the position of your bones and joints. Some medications also can cause tingling.
* If you feel weak or clumsy or have joint pain, the problem might be in your joints and the ability of those joints and your brain to properly communicate with each other about position.
Research has shown that poor vision in one eye alone is almost as good a predictor of falls due to vision problems as is poor vision in two eyes, and this is because the depth perception that two good eyes affords us is compromised when only one eye is adequately functioning. When that occurs, we cannot accurately gauge the distance between two objects. Go ahead and cover your right eye right now and look around at some different things in the room with your left eye only, and then after about 5 or 10 seconds of that try the same thing with your left eye covered and your right eye doing the work. Sure, the eyes might take a second or two to adapt after being covered, but they should both function equally. If they don’t, you are at risk for a fall due to lack of optimal depth perception.
Vertigo is the sensation of movement when there is not any actual movement. Vertigo is vestibular. That means it is associated with a problem in your inner ear. Vertigo can be egocentric or geocentric. With egocentric the world appears to be spinning around you (like being drunk), with geocentric you feel as if you are spinning while the world according to your vision appears normal.
A note about that feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness you sometimes get when you stand up:
Orthostatic hypotension is a sharp decrease in blood pressure due to the effect of gravity on the blood when your rise. Your body cannot adapt quickly enough, and you experience a light-headedness as the blood pools in your lower body and you have a shortage of blood in the brain. This can cause fainting. Your venous leg pump can be assisted by performing isotonic leg contractions while sitting or standing. So, when you are waiting on line make your leg muscles tighten without bending your knees. That’s an exercise for the veins in your legs.
In order to avoid a fall you need to focus on maintaining a healthy nervous system and maintaining an active lifestyle as safely as you can. At Park Bench Chiropractic we focus on helping our patients maintain healthy nervous systems and active lifestyles. Call us at (301) 378-0334 or stop by today.
Dr. Romano is a board certified and licensed chiropractor in Maryland. He practices in Frederick, Md at 1780 North Market Street. He has worked with the older population in practice as a chiropractor as well as at numerous nursing homes and facilities. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Doctorate in Chiropractic. Dr. Romano and Dr. Schooley are also available to speak to groups, including seniors, about fall prevention and recovery and the importance of a healthy nervous system.